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This Weekend: The Tacoma Craft Beer Fest

September 29, 2010 3 comments

It's going down this weekend.

This Friday, October 1st and Saturday, October 2nd will mark the second annual Tacoma Craft Beer Fest. There’s a few really great reasons to take a short venture south on I-5 to check it out. The first three are location, location, and location. Though I have never actually been to the Foss Waterway Seaport, from what I have heard from friends and from the pictures I have seen online, it seems like a pretty fantastic locale for beer drinking.  We’re talking real deal waterfront here.  You can get a beer, served by a sea-lion, poured into a hallowed-out buoy, all while romping with rock stars and CEOs on million dollar yachts!  Now that’s a party!

Ok, that probably won’t happen, but only because there is no possible way that a sea-lion could properly pour a beer with those weird flipper things they call hands.  The TCBF will not stand for allowing any of that precious liquid to go to waste.  Speaking of precious liquid, that brings me to my fourth and final “great reason” to check out TCBF this year, the beer (and really, that’s the only reason you should ever need)!

Though the website is in severe lack of detail when it comes to what will be offered, we can look at the breweries that will be in attendance and make certain assumptions about the overall quality of the event.  Below you will find the complete list of breweries that will be pouring.  Overall, it looks pretty impressive to me.  One gripe that a die-hard beer fest goer like myself may have, about beer fest in general, is that there is a lot of brewery participant crossover from one fest to the next.  In a state with such an impressive and diverse brewing pedigree, you’d think that festival curators would make more of an effort to attract some of the Northwest breweries that you don’t see at every beer fest.  Because of this, I have chosen to highlight some of the new and some of the uncommon festival participants.

192 Brewing – These Kenmore, WA guys are still relatively new.  If you haven’t found their product on tap at the bars and you missed them at the Fremont Oktoberfest, here is another chance.  I’ll be hoping to see the Bier de Garde.
21st Amendment Brewing
7 Seas Brewing
Airways Brewing – Haven’t had a chance to try this newish Kent, WA brewery yet?  Here is your chance.  Check out the ESB if it’s available.  I think you will find it to be a supreme example of the style.
Alaskan Brewing
Anchor Brewing
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Big Al’s Brewing

Burris Brewing – Rhett Burris makes his beer up in Everett, but he is a Tacoma guy through and through.  It is very rare to see his Jackrabbit Pale Ale on tap anywhere other than in Tacoma, but it’s growing rapidly and expansion could be right around the corner.  If I’m not mistaken, he will be pouring his brand new Oktoberfest at the festival as well.  Swing by his booth and be one of the first in the world to try it.
Chuckanut Brewing
Deschutes Brewing
Diamond Knot Brewing
Dicks Brewing

Double Mountain Brewing – This is one of my favorite newish OR breweries.  I absolutely swoon over their saisons, and their IPAs are killer as well.  Pretty much everything of theirs that I’ve tried has been solid.  I know I’ll be stopping by their booth, no matter what is pouring.
Elysian Brewing
Emerald City Beer
– Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you know all about Dottie, the brand new dark lager coming out of The Old Rainier Brewery space.  But, just because you’ve heard all about it doesn’t mean that you’ve tried it.  I know I haven’t.
Engine House #9 – If you’re not a Tacoma resident, chances are good that you are completely unaware of this brewpub.  Why not check it out and see if it’s worth adding to your next Tacoma bar crawl?
Everybody’s Brewing – I always get a little chuckle out of reading this White Salmon, WA brewery’s beers off of local bar’s taplists.  “Everyboby’s Brewing Daily Bread Common Ale” it would read, and I would say to myself, “…really?  Why is everyone brewing a common ale?  What exactly is a common ale and how is it that I seem to be the only one not brewing it?  Oh, Everybody’s Brewing is the name of a brewery.  Dumbass.”  I see these brews on at Naked City pretty often, but in general, they are still a bit rare in these parts.  Check them out if you haven’t already.
Firestone Walker Brewing – Yeah, I know, I kiss the feet of Firestone on the daily.  I only highlight these guys because, for me, the willpower does not exist within to allow me to walk past their booth and not fill up my glass.
Fish Tale Ales
Full Sail Brewing
Georgetown Brewing

Green Flash Brewing – I’d imagine that you know about Green Flash and their near unparalleled mastery of the hop.  It’s not everyday that you see these guys pouring at a Washington beer fest.  One might as well take advantage, right?
Great Divide Brewing
Hale’s Ales
Harmon Brewing
Iron Horse Brewing
Lagunitas Brewing
Lazy Boy Brewing
Lost Coast Brewing
Mac and Jacks
Maritime Pacific
Merchant Du Vin

MT Head Brewing – These guys are from Graham, WA and have been doing the brewing thing for a little over a year now according to the website.  I have never actually seen their product before, so I would be excited to get a taste.  It looks like they make a brown, a pale and a red.  Let’s hope the flavors aren’t as MT as their heads.
New Belgium Brewing
Ninkasi Brewing
North Coast Brewing

Odin Brewing – A good friend and periodic columnist of Beer Blotter, Mark Leavens, recently took a job with Odin as a sales rep.  He is so damn smooth that our group of friends call him “Legend”.  He could be peddling the worst beer on the face of the Earth and I would still mention it here, but luckily, Odin is decidedly not making the worst beer on Earth.  In fact, it’s pretty great.  If they have the sour stout, don’t pussyfoot.
Ommegang Brewing – Any time this Coopertown, NY brewery with Belgian ties has a new release, I freak out.  You should have seen me a few months back, asking everyone I know to keep a look out for Zuur (Flemish brown sour) bottles.  “Call me if you see them,” I would say.  Now the search is on for Cup o Kyndnes (Scotch ale).  If they happen to be pouring either, I’ll be getting more than one.
Oskar Blues Brewing
Pike Brewing

Port Angeles Brewing – I’m not sure if this is a mistake or what, but to my knowledge PAB is no longer.  If I’m wrong, I can’t wait to see how good their resurrected beers are.
RAM Tacoma (Bighorn)
Schooner Exact Brewing
Silver City Brewing
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing
Stone Brewing
Trade Route Brewing
Two Beers Brewing
Walking Man Brewing
– The Columbia River Gorge breweries are really coming out in numbers for this one.  We love to see it!  WMB is just one of those WA breweries that we can’t get enough of.  Their Black Cherry Stout and Homo Erectus IPA can be found in the Seattle market with a reasonable regularity, but that’s about it.  I’ll be hoping to see some of their other fantastic brews.  Give me that Jaywalker!

If anyone has any information about specific beers that will be available at the fest, please let us know.  Also, if you feel like me glossed over something special, drop us a line.

52 Weeks: Walking Man Brewing, Stevenson, WA

August 19, 2010 2 comments

The Board at Walking Man. What shall we have?

Week 30 of 52:

Walking Man Brewing

240 1st Street
Stevenson, WA 98648

(509) 427-5520

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Brewpub, local joint. This is the place where most of the boozers come to step out of the 95 degree Gorge weather and have a pint.

Visit: An amazing Saturday afternoon, after 100 miles of motorcycling around the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mt. St. Helens and the Columbia Gorge. It was hot – 90+  – and we sat outside in the garden.

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit):

Walking Man serves Walking Man. Go figure. This is an in-house only establishment, so you won’t find any other brewer here. Believe me, you don’t need anyone else:

Walking Man IPA – 7.2%

Pale Strider – 5.2% Pale Ale

Ramblin Raspberry – 4.8% Wheat w/ Berries

Peg Leg Pale – Seasonal Pale

Crosswalk Wheat – 4.5%+ Basic Wheat Ale

Old Stumblefoot – 12% Barleywine

My Walking Stick Stout & the taplist

Runaway IPA – 7.2% IPA made with Sorachi Ace!

Walking Stick Stout – 7.2% Oatmeal Stout

Flip Flop Pilsner – 5% Pilsner

Knuckle Dragger Pale – 6% Strong & Hoppy Pale

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER:

Walking Man does not bottle any of their beer. Since they only serve Walking Man, you can guess what their bottle and can list looks like. Zero.

FOOD OPTIONS:

Here is the menu so that you can see what I’m talking about. This is the reason that this place gets knocked back a peg or two.

The menu is a bit limited, which is fine considering its a brewpub. But the portions and prices do not match the typical brewpub production.

At Walking Man, we are talking pizza, spring rolls, fries and salads. Unfortunately, for $11.00 you get what most would consider a side salad, filled with bag of lettuce fixins.

There is good as well. The pizza and the appetizers are reasonable. Cohorts very much enjoyed eating the Black Pesto Pizza, finding it a decent value. I loved the Hog Wings (pork shanks in BBQ sauce) – best thing on the menu. I’ll discuss the food below a bit.

BAR OPINION:

Walking Man Brewing has eluded me for some time. I have been a staunch supporter of their beers since first tasting their Black Cherry Stout some 3 years back. Its a beer revered by many.

Later in life, I was able to come across Knuckle Dragger Pale and Homo Erectus Imperial IPA. Both of these ales only piqued my interest further. What else could they possibly be hiding from me?

Walking Man has been producing beer for just over 10 years. The story of how it came to be was an interesting one, starting in Indianapolis in 1979 when Bob Craig moved out west for the first time.

Bob Craig is a man’s man. I’m only saying that from his picture, which depicts him as a skinny, 60-year-old brewer with a big bushy beard and a constant smile.  The Walking Man dream was apparently more of a good business decision than a blind desire to make beer for a living. Craig had determined that making beer was cheap – and he could do it well.

So, fast-forward to 2010. Stevenson, Washington’s Walking Man is kegging 1500 barrels of beer (2009 numbers) and showing up as the #15 brewpub to visit in the world, so says RateBeer.com’s 2010 rankings. The teeny brewpub on the Columbia River (about 45 miles East of Portland, OR) is on the rise.

I set out to see this place with my own eyes, and consume this beer for my own, um, educational purposes. Well, I finally made it.

I planned to be at the brewery when it allegedly opened at 3 PM. We pulled up in front right at 3 on the dot, just to notice that the sign said that it actually opened at 12 PM. Apparently, their website has yet to be updated. I would suppose that the new hours are merely for the summertime – but who knows.

Walking Man looks like an empty old house from the road. Many of my cohorts claimed that it must be closed. But alas, a sign on the door advises you to descend down the crotchety old staircase to find the pub.

As you walk towards the pub, you notice the long strands of hops growing from the building’s 2nd story balcony, down to the floor of the pub’s garden. I checked these out later on – they appear to simply be garden hops. But still, they provide an excellent decor for the pub.

When you approach the ground level, you enter the garden, which has both covered and open spaces filled with tables. We chose the open garden area – to bake in the 90+ degree heat.

I went inside to investigate a bit further. Quick notes on what I found:

  1. The inside is essentially a basement and therefore nice, dark and cool. Very refreshing on this hot day.
  2. The bar meets you as you enter. The bar top is situated at a perfect sitting and consuming height. No stretch required.
  3. The bar back showcases about 10 taps and a large chalkboard with the current specialty beers. I am enthralled to see Old Stumblefoot Barleywine.
  4. There are about 3 bar tables along the wall, 6 bar stools and then another 4 or 5 tables towards the rear of the pub. The rear tables fit a nice sized group of patrons.
  5. The bar stools are finely fabricated steel “walking man” signs that a local artist created for the pub. Very cool.
  6. There is quite a bit of shwag to purchase if you want to prove to your friends that you finally made the visit. A Homo Erectus T-Shirt is pretty sexy.
  7. The bathrooms are a trip. I discuss this below, but remember that they are unisex, though themed.

I saddled up outside in the garden and perused the beer list. Luckily, I had come to the pub with a complete 5 man group, each of which have a sense for beer adventure. We set out to try the entire list.

I started with a Runaway IPA and an Old Stumblefoot Barleywine. I know that its not a good way to procedurally taste beer (barleywine so early), but I dont care about that “crashing palette” theory. Drink some water; good to go.

Runaway IPA became our champion of the day. It was the one beer we decided to take camping with us later on that evening. At 7.2% alcohol, its the perfect balance of taste and intoxicating power that campers need.

The beer is packed with Sorachi Ace hops, one of my favorite new hops on the market. The hop provides a very strong citric tart flavoring to your beer. Mixing this with another favorite – Centennial hops – made this an instant fave around the table. The beer is fruity, bold and smooth, yet crisp. If they still have it – get it.

Next, I tried the Old Stumblefoot. My instant reaction was that it had all the makings of a great barleywine, but it does not finish perfectly. Over time, I have learned that the best in barleywines have that oomph at the end, bringing the flavor development to a crisp close.

This one starts with a perfect caramelized sugar and honey maltiness, balanced very well with an intense sweet hop aroma. But it closes without any notice. Some might like the absence of alcohol flavors, but I have come to enjoy that closing. Depending on where you fall, this has the potential to be a very good barleywine.

I also grabbed some small samples of the Walking Stick Stout, Knuckle Dragger Pale and Walking Man IPA. Each of these beers impressed, especially Knuckle Dragger, which is an exceptionally well-balanced, yet incredibly hoppy and amber flavored pale.

On to the food. Apparently, everyone in the group ordered from their conscience, which can sometimes play tricks on your stomach. Of course, being a motorcycle trip, the men felt like men and the boys (guys in the car trailing us) felt like boys. So, I ordered the Hog Wings (nicely sized pork shanks, covered in spicy BBQ with blue cheese) and my biking cohorts chose two different pizzas. Our support team – salads.

Surprisingly (pure sarcasm), the motorcycling team truly applauded their choices. The Hog Wings really savor the classic BBQ taste, while taking a play on the classic wing delivery. I am hooked and, apparently, so are the guys eating pizza. Their pizzas are covered in intriguing topics, cooked crisply and reasonably sized. We are full and happy. Our friends are not.

To be fair, our friends had not been burning through energy stores the way we were. Instead of shifting gears, shifting weight, fighting horrid street conditions and fending off insect-to-the-face insurgence – they were faced with difficult decisions, such as the amount of A/C to use and the degree to which lean their seats. So, the salad decision is somewhat defended. Unfortunately, it was a huge mistake.

The salads are very small, unimpressive and pricey. They rifled through what appeared to be bag-o-lettuce ingredients (but cannot be sure of this) in about 3-4 minutes. Luckily, a basket of fries came to their rescue. Word of caution – stick with the pizza and apps.

Enter "Readers"

All this eating and drinking called for a trip to the loo. I entered the building and found two mystical doors, one saying “Dreamers”, the other saying “Readers.” To avoid critical embarrassment, I consulted with friends. They deemed these to be unisex and luckily they were correct. I chose “Dreamers” for my first visit.

The inside of dreamers is filled with subconscious imagery in art form. The walls are adorned with paintings of Heironymous Bosch- like images and modern dreamlike imagery. Very cool.

For my next visit, I chose to be a “Reader”. The walls of this stall include storybook phrases, classic quips, and other storied sayings. If you had to visit this stall for a long time, you’d be a smarter person upon leaving. Again, very cool.

We decided to close up shop and gear up for the take out beer. This was the other stumbling block we ran into. Walking Man charges $12.00 (before tax) for their growler fills. You need to pay an additional $6.00 for the glass if you did not bring your own. So, you are looking at $20.00 (with tax) for 4 pints. If you want the barleywine, its $29.00 (with tax).

We had one growler with us, so we went ahead and filled that with the ever tasty Runaway IPA and decided to supplement our beer load with some good old backcountry swill (translation: Hamms, Icehouse & High Life).

During our stay, we had excellent service from a very nice waitress. The service was exceptional, considering the amount of tables that needed to be cared for by our waitress. I once saw her carry about 6 glasses full of beer at once. Impressive – thanks for the good time.

I will recommend this place to anyone. Perfect your trip by enjoying Walking Man’s hoppy ales, avoiding the salad and bringing your own growlers if you intend to take beer with you.

Its Alive! Success, Failure and Happiness in Brewing

August 18, 2010 2 comments

We made that guy. There's a lot more.

So, we promised a lot of new articles this week. I especially promised to have a Walking Man Brewing review up by today. But alas, there were some magical developments last night that prevented me from visiting the computer to do a write up.

As you might know, two of our Beer Blotter writers are brewing beers on a home system that they created a few months back.

The product is beginning to flow and we decided to drag you along for the ride. We also believe that our readers can be an excellent source for information on brewing and bettering your finished product. So please give it a read and chime in if you have any info to help us.

 

The Event & The Opportunity.

Last night, our famed kickball team was forced to forfeit a game after our editor was injured by a bit of excessive play on the other side. Luckily, both teams are forfeiting – and deservedly so for that team. Best of luck to our editor as she overcomes her mild head injury. Get better Jess!

Anyways, the early departure allowed us to return home to find our good friend Timperial Stout, home from a day of brewing Lazy Boy Brewing‘s Imperial IPA (cannot wait to try this!). Tim and I decided to unearth the fermentors that we deposited in the basement a few weeks back – and sample our first batch of beer.

 

The Concerns.

We had truly feared contamination after a troubling conclusion to our first brewing experience with the new half-barrel system that we built. Our chilling process was exacerbated, our yeast measurements were shoddy at best and our transfer process was forced to happen after-dark, causing all types of concerns.

We also had tons of problems keeping solids from entering the boil, which made the wort a bit earthy. We have since developed better techniques to prevent solid insurgence.

 

The Beer Recipe.

For our inaugural beer, we chose a nice solid, summery IPA. We wanted to keep the hop profile simple, yet tasty. We also selected a malt mix that focused on one type of pale malt, but a lot of it to reach an optimal range of 7% alcohol by volume. This beer includes crystal malt, cara-pils, and pale malt. The hop list includes Magnum, Cascade and an abundance of Amarillo.

 

The Result. Beer.

We racked the fermentor and slid a small portion of the beer down into a pitcher. The beer had stopped bubbling and fermenting several days prior, so we were concerned we were a bit late on racking. But I recently read an article that shows that leaving the beer on the yeast a bit longer has a marginal impact on the beer’s taste.

I take a whiff first – it smells like beer. Nothing incredible about the nose, but it smells a bit skunky, though not overwhelmingly so.

Then I take a sip, convinced that the smell was encouraging. First take: not bad, not at all. Second take: I actually enjoy this beer. I take another deep smell and a big sip, swishing the beer around my mouth. I am met with strong tones of sweetness, hefty bitterness and a deep fruity finish. I am a happy man.

 

The Measurements.

We took some measurements. Our original gravity was 1.066 and we finished at 1.012, exactly as we had set out to do. The ABV rang in at about 7.1%, again what we were looking to do. The color was a nice golden copper (probably a 7 on most charts) and the clarity was above average. The amount of unfiltered residue was minimal as well.

We were seriously surprised on the finished color and clarity, especially after we had termed the beer as “Pond Scum IPA” during the brewing process. The beer seemed to really clear up throughout fermentation.

 

The Remaining Dilemmas.

So, we are ready to drink the 8-9 gallons that we yielded (a poor yield, but we’ll get better). But the goal is to correct some of the common problems that many Seattle home brewers probably face:

 

(1) How do we chill the wort with a hose temperature of 78 degrees!?

Using an immersion chiller is difficult in Seattle. Our ground water is only about 78 degrees, which is higher than what we want to chill the beer to. This time, it took about 1.5 hours to get it chilled. Thats dangerous.

 

(2) How do we manage the yeast?

We are using recycled brewery liquid yeast (thanks to great friends). Because of this, we need to find a good way to (a) determine the amount of active yeast particles in the liquid and (b) figure out how much is needed for our batch.

 

We will continue to work and figure this stuff out – but Beer Blotter’s 1st Anniversary party is this November and we plan on brewing our own beer for the big extravaganza. So, any help from you brewer readers out there is greatly appreciated.

 

The Great Washington Motorcycle Loop: The Holy Visit to Walking Man Brewing

August 13, 2010 1 comment

Walking Man - Here I Come!

Well, in about 2 hours we officially disembark on our 2010 great motorcycle ride. This is the 2nd Annual version of our ride, which includes four of my closest friends and required cowboy camping (sleeping bag only). Needless to say – I am excited.

Our journey has been described as a “Great Washington Loop” and can essentially be any looping motion around a portion of the State of Washington. Last year, the inaugural ride involved a ride along Washington’s State Highway 101, starting in Seattle, heading west to Port Angeles, out to Forks, through the Hoh Rain Forest, down to Aberdeen and back up to Seattle. So, the goal is to never touch the same road twice – a loop.

This year’s version had to include an epic brewery visit. It just had to. Along with me will be Mark Leavens, a contributor here at Beer Blotter and former assistant brewer for the cult classic, Gilligan’s Brewing. This gave me a little bit of beer support to let the group know that we would not be riding, sans brewery stop.

There was really only one place in Washington that I have yet to visit – the Columbia Gorge. Wouldn’t you know it? There is one brewery I have died to visit since moving here over 3 years ago – Walking Man Brewing in the Columbia Gorge.

So, we decided on this loop, South to Mt. St. Helens, further South to the Columbia Gorge, East to Yakima Valley, and North back through Mt. Rainier. You can check out our route by following this link.

Walking Man is a damn good brewer, offering such classics as Black Cherry Stout (our editor’s favorite beer), Homo Erectus Imperial IPA, Jaywalker Imperial Stout and Old Stumblefoot Barleywine.

Each of Walking Man’s beers are hand-crafted, meticulously refined and dang it, delicious. Their beer is probably the best received on Rate Beer, of any Washington brewer. On top of that, Walking Man offers a brewpub with some pretty impressive food options. We will stop by tomorrow afternoon and check it out.

After that, I hope to make a stop in Yakima to find some Yakima Craft Brewing ales on tap. I tend to remember a place downtown on 3rd Street that poured many of their ales. But, this one is for you readers – anyone know where to find their beer on tap? Please let me know, by sending a comment below.

The trip is going to be one hell of a ride. The weather is looking up at 85-90 the entire time with zero rain in sight (crossed fingers). If you are free this weekend, it would be a great time to get out and do a beer trip!

Please let us know if you have any personal favorite spots along our route! Send a comment below or an email to beerblotter@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

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